Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Michael J. Bobbitt, the executive director of the Mass Cultural Council. Let’s learn what’s happening at the Mass Cultural Council and how Michael J. Bobbitt is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Michael! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through the Mass Cultural Council?
Michael: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! The creative sector relies heavily on grants, causing financial instability. As a state agency, our value lies in driving systemic change: shaping policies, fostering cross-sector relationships, and promoting education. Breaking silos between arts and other industries can create a more financially stable and inclusive creative landscape.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Michael: The arts saved me from a very volatile and dysfunctional home. I got out of bed and off to school every day to escape into the arts. Without it, I'm confident that I would not be here. Thus, I have become obsessed with the potential of a sector to solve many of the world's problems, but the sector needs to be healthy to do it.
Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?
Michael: At the moment, a lot of people and organizations get funding. If I am successful with our new strategic plan, the creative and cultural sector of Massachusetts will be considered an essential human service.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
Michael: We have been beta-testing arts on prescription. Basically, health care providers, social workers, and school counselors have been "prescribing" arts and cultural activities as supplements as alternatives to medicine. By using assets that already exist in our communities, this initiative will greatly support vast mental and physical health issues, social isolation, and relationships between health care providers and patients; especially people of color.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Michael: Creativity is how we can solve all of the world's problems. Each person's proximity to, consumption of, and practice in the arts only help to expand our minds to the creative process. This is a value that adds to our society for every adult, child, legislator, business, and community leader. The arts and its connection to creativity is similar to sports and its connection to teamwork.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Michael—it’s been an honor!
Mass Cultural Council executive director Michael J. Bobbitt is the highest-ranking cultural official in the Massachusetts state government. Michael’s prior roles as artistic director at New Repertory Theatre in Massachusetts and Adventure Theatre-MTC in Maryland established him as a driving force in professional regional theater and theater training. His extensive arts management, business, and race equity training includes programs at Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School, Cornell University, LEADBoston, artEquity, and National Arts Strategies—culminating in achievements including the Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for his dedication to the arts and educational theater. (Nominated by Marian Taylor Brown. First published on the Ladderworks website on December 8, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Daniela Vega. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.